Texas Rangers: Jason Kubel

Olney: Jason Kubel a fit for Rangers?

December, 24, 2012
12/24/12
1:30
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ESPN.com's Buster Olney runs down his list of candidates for Jason Kubel, the most likely outfielder (he's more like a DH) to get dealt by the Diamondbacks now that they have a surplus. Here's part of what Olney writes about the Rangers' fit (he ranks them sixth on his list) on Kubel (to read the rest, you need to be an insider):



They need left-handed hitting, too, and they lack power in the aftermath of Josh Hamilton's departure. But Kubel is an imperfect fit for the Rangers as well, because they prefer to keep their DH spot flexible and have a lot of day-to-day candidates.




That list could be plenty long depending on what happens this offseason. If Ian Kinsler moves to first base, Mitch Moreland could get some DH chances. A.J. Pierzynski could DH on days he doesn't catch. What about Nelson Cruz or David Murphy at times?

The Rangers value flexibility and Kubel may not offer enough of it to make complete sense. But he is a left-handed hitter and had 30 homers and 90 RBIs in 2012. Arizona is looking to deal an outfielder and Kubel may be the most logical one to go unless they are blown out of the water for Justin Upton. I tend to agree with Olney here. Kubel just isn't a perfect fit. I'd rather see the club stick with the internal options. As we've discussed, Upton is another story. He's young, under club control for a while. But the price to get him may be too high.

BTW, Olney believes that the Tampa Bay Rays, in need of a DH, make the most sense. Read more here (insider).

Time to make another run at Justin Upton?

December, 22, 2012
12/22/12
2:24
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The news that the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to terms on a three-year, $26 million deal with outfielder Cody Ross (that ESPN.com's Jim Bowden reports includes an option year with a buyout) means they have a surplus at the position.

ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweets that the D-backs are looking to trade one of those outfielders.

Obviously, the biggest name on the list is Justin Upton. Things certainly heated up on the Upton front at the Winter Meetings, but at that time Arizona needed a shortstop in the deal. They don't now after getting Didi Gregorius, a young prospect at short, a few weeks ago. Arizona does have the luxury of sitting back and not moving Upton unless they get terrific value, and the club has other outfielders that could be dealt -- Jason Kubel could be the most likely one to go.

But if Arizona listened to Upton offers before, they could continue to keep their ears open. Maybe without needing a shortstop, there's something the Rangers could do. Could Mike Olt headline a package? Would the D-backs want pitching prospects? The Rangers have some of those and a farm system that could entice Arizona. The question, as always, is price. The Rangers won't panic and vastly overpay, either.

Upton, though, could certainly provide a boost to the Rangers' lineup. He also fits the club's overall philosophy in that he's a young player (25 years old) under club control through the 2015 season. Upton hit .280 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs in 2012. He had a .785 OPS and his speed helped him steal 18 bases. He played in 150 games.

Upton has a career .278 average and has hit at least 15 home runs in each of his past five seasons. He had 31 homers in 2011 and 26 in 2009, so the power is there. He's also stolen at least 18 bases in each of the past four seasons. Upton will make $9.75 million this season, $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015 before he becomes a free agent.

But what if an Upton deal just is too expensive in terms of prospects? Kubel could be on the market. He turns 31 in May and bats left-handed (Upton is a right-handed hitter). He's coming off an impressive 2012 campaign in which he hit a career-high 30 homers and drove in 90 runs. He had an .833 OPS. He made 123 starts in left field in 2012 (and one start in right). He could give the team a power jolt. He makes $7.5 million in 2013 and has a $7.5 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout, so any team that trades for him will at least be paying him $8.5 million.

Upton is the more intriguing player with his track record and age. He's someone that could join the current core group and be a staple for a few years in Texas. The question is what it would cost. Kubel isn't a bad backup choice since the Rangers have a right-handed heavy lineup (though David Murphy, the current left-fielder, is also a left-handed hitter). Kubel is also cheaper.

How badly do you want Upton? What are you willing to give up? (And no, Jurickson Profar is not a name that should be discussed when it comes to this deal.) Would you rather see the Rangers go after Kubel?

Scott Feldman still in search of first win

June, 14, 2012
6/14/12
11:29
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tough luck and inconsistent pitching have combined to put Scott Feldman in an 0-6 hole.

His most recent start was a loss at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who came away with an 11-3 win in their series finale against the Texas Rangers. Feldman gave up six runs, four earned, in just five innings of work in the loss.

The right-hander got off to a good start, striking out the side in the first, but he used 20 pitches to do so. Opponents are just 2-for-22 off Feldman in the opening frame, but unfortunately for him, baseball is more than a one inning game.

In the second, Feldman's night took a turn for the worse when he allowed a two-out single to Lyle Overbay on an 0-2 count. The next batter, Jason Kubel, crushed a two-run homer to give the Diamondbacks a 2-1 advantage.

He allowed two more runs in the third with two outs. Justin Upton beat out an infield single before an error by Mitch Moreland kept the inning alive. Overbay, then, delivered a two-run double to extend the Arizona lead.

"Maybe we made some mistakes behind him," manager Ron Washington said of Feldman's outing. "But just because we made mistakes, that doesn't mean you let the flood gates open. You've got to stop it. They make mistakes, you pick them up. They pick you up."

The Rangers have struggled on defense with Feldman on the mound, totaling eight errors in his starts, but he knows he has to battle through that.

"That kind of stuff happens, and I just have to get the next guy out," Feldman said. "I didn't do that tonight."

Standing at 0-6, Feldman holds the longest season-opening losing streak since C.J. Wilson lost his first six decisions in 2005. It is also the longest losing streak by a starter since John Dettmer in 1994.

Feldman has yet to get deeper than 5 1/3 innings this season, which he did against San Francisco on June 9, and a lot of that has to do with his pitch count. The 29-year-old has struggled to get guys out in a timely fashion, throwing 100 pitches, including 68 strikes, in his five innings on the mound.

"I got ahead of a couple of guys tonight, I just wasn't able to put them away," Feldman, who's ERA has risen to 6.50, said. "It was basically just lack of fastball command on all of those."

It's been no secret that Feldman has been the weak link in an already beaten up starting rotation, and he admitted it's frustrating.

"The last couple of games, I thought I threw the ball pretty well," he said. "Obviously tonight, I didn't make some pitches with two outs or two strikes. I feel like I'm very close to being good. ... I didn't think it would take me this long to start clicking and stuff, but I just feel like I'm so close to getting there."

Rapid Reaction: Diamondbacks 11, Rangers 3

June, 14, 2012
6/14/12
10:04
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ARLINGTON, Texas-- A sweep eluded the Texas Rangers as they dropped the final game of their three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, 11-3, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Thursday. Some quick thoughts:

What it means: The Rangers took the series against the D-backs, 2-to-1. The loss Thursday drops the Rangers' lead to three games in the AL West as the Angels were idle.

Bats hot early: Unlike Wednesday night's pitching battle, the Rangers and D-backs both got on the board early in Thursday's game. The Rangers scored first when Elvis Andrus doubled and was then driven home by an RBI single from Adrian Beltre in the first inning. The D-backs took the lead in the second inning on a two-run homer from Jason Kubel. Arizona scored again in the third on a two-RBI double from Lyle Overbay with two outs.

The quest continues: Scott Feldman is still searching for his first win of the season. Despite striking out the side in the first inning, the D-backs got up on Feldman early. The score was 5-1 Arizona when Feldman left the game in the sixth inning. Feldman allowed six runs on eight hits (one home run) with no walks and six strikeouts. He is 0-6 on the season. Two of the runs were unearned.

Give me five: Feldman still has yet to complete six innings this year as a starter. He completed five innings for only the second time this season with the first coming in his previous start against San Francisco.

Not-so-merry go round: The Rangers struggled in the sixth inning, allowing the D-backs to bat around. After Feldman gave up back-to-back doubles to start the inning, Tanner Scheppers got one out before Arizona got on a roll. Two singles and a home run later, Scheppers got the second out. The Rangers allowed one more single before Scheppers struck out the ninth batter of the inning, Justin Upton.

Lone Ranger: Andrus carried the Rangers offense for most of the game, hitting a double and single in his first two at bats. He was the only Ranger other than Beltre to have a hit through the first six innings. Andrus finished 2-for-4.

Seventh-inning surge: The Rangers bats finally woke up in the seventh inning. Beltre belted a double to leadoff the inning and then with two outs, David Murphy drove him in with a two-run homer to cut the lead to six. It was Murphy's second home run in three days. Murphy finished 1-for-3 and Beltre finished 2-for-3. Only three Rangers had a hit.

Welcome back: Michael Kirkman saw his first major league action of the season when he pitched one inning in the seventh. The lefty tossed back-to-back strikeouts and allowed one walk. ... Alberto Gonzalez also saw action, making his first appearance at the plate since May 30. He grounded out in his lone at-bat.

Using the pen: Scheppers, Kirkman, Mark Lowe, and Yoshinori Tateyama each pitched an inning. Only Scheppers and Tateyama allowed a hit. Scheppers allowed four hits and three runs, while Tateyama allowed a controversial single that led to a two-run homer in the ninth.

You're outa here: Ian Kinsler was ejected in the bottom of the sixth for arguing a called third strike with home plate umpire Eric Cooper. Kinsler finished 0-for-3 with two fly outs and a strikeout.

Heads up: For the third night in a row, one of Josh Hamilton's bats flew into the Rangers stands. Hamilton's bat shattered in his third at-bat, sending the largest piece of bat shrapnel careening into the first-base stands. It's becoming a good idea for fans to wear a helmet to the Ballpark.

Still not himself: Two days removed from a virus, Nelson Cruz has yet to get things going. He had three straight strikeouts, including his lone at-bat in Wednesday's game and finished Thursday 0-for-3.

Up next: The Rangers begin a three-game series against the rival Houston Astros to finish out this homestand. The first game of the series features RHP Yu Darvish (7-4, 3.72) vs. RHP Jordan Lyles (1-2, 5.40) at 7:05 p.m.on ESPN Dallas 103.3FM/TXA-21.

Reaction: Ian Kinsler homers vs. Diamondbacks

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
6:59
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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Second baseman Ian Kinsler thought he took strike three in the sixth inning.

Home plate umpire Angel Campos called the fourth pitch a ball though. On the next toss from David Hernandez, Kinsler blasted it to left-center for a two-run homer during the Texas Rangers 8-6 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kinsler is 7-for-10 with four RBIs in the last three games, including a 3-for-4 performance Saturday, since returning from mild stiffness in his lower back.

[+] EnlargeIan Kinsler
Jake Roth/US PresswireIan Kinsler was 3-for-4 with a home run Saturday against the Diamondbacks.
"I’m still fighting some things but it’s what goes on every spring training," Kinsler said. "Everyone’s bodies is trying to adjust right now, and I’m just trying to make sure I stay healthy regardless of the result."

Kinsler has worked on refining his swing since he returned so he can be ready to go on Opening Day.

"Right now, I’m not too worried about the overall offense chemistry right now because we know what we have," Kinsler said. "It’s selfish time and it’s time to worry about yourself and time to get ready for the season."

Even as he attempts to play selfishly, Kinsler still finds ways to help his team.

He led the lineup to a fast start in the first inning, driving a double to center field on a full count. It was the first of three consecutive hits for the Rangers during their three-run inning.

Kinsler picked up his second double in the second inning with two outs, sparking another three-run inning.

"That’s Kinsler," bench coach Jackie Moore said. "You can see him getting into his groove now and he’s feeling good about himself. It’s not unexpected."

Other notes:

Feldman's start: It doesn't look pretty in the box score, but pitcher Scott Feldman was pleased with his start. He allowed five runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Four of those runs came in the fifth inning during Feldman's longest outing this spring. It appeared arm fatigue came into play as he threw 75 pitches Saturday.

"It was good for the first time going out there and throwing that many pitches," Feldman said. "It’ll probably be sore tomorrow but everything else is pretty good."

Feldman was dealing to start the game. A triple from outfielder Jason Kubel was the only hit Feldman allowed after three innings. Feldman pounded the strike zone and picked up five strikeouts in the game. He struck out third baseman Ryan Roberts with his changeup to end the third inning.

"I wanted to throw a lot of changeups and felt pretty comfortable with it," Feldman said. "It’s gotten a lot better as spring has gone on."

Kubel got him again during his second at-bat. He launched a 1-1 changeup deep to right field. It hit the top of the home run party deck tent.

Feldman was scheduled to pitch five innings, but after he gave up his fourth hit in the fifth inning -- a double to outfielder Justin Upton -- he was pulled.

"That last inning, he got a little tired, but I thought it was an outstanding job," Moore said.

Uehara allows HR Koji Uehara pitched in relief and gave up a home run against his first batter. Kubel launched the two run-homer to left center field. Uehara gave up four hits in 1 1/3 innings

Uehara walked outfielder Chris Young but threw him out at first base to close the fifth. He allowed two more runs in the sixth.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
10 2.90 167 133
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .321
HRA. Beltre 15
RBIA. Beltre 57
RA. Beltre 56
OPSA. Beltre .882
ERAY. Darvish 2.90
SOY. Darvish 167